Colombia, often referred to as the gateway to South America, is not only renowned for its coffee but also for a spectrum of refreshing beverages that embody its vibrant culture and diverse ecosystems. From the coastal cities to the Andean highlands, here are the top five non-alcoholic cocktails that have become synonymous with the Colombian spirit.
- Aguapanela: A simple yet heartwarming drink, Aguapanela is made from hardened sugar cane juice, known as panela. This traditional beverage can be enjoyed both hot and cold. Often, it’s complemented with a squeeze of lime or paired with cheese. Aguapanela is deeply embedded in Colombian culture and is believed to have therapeutic properties, especially for combating colds.
- Lulada: Hailing from the city of Cali, Lulada celebrates the exotic Lulo fruit, which offers a unique combination of tangy and sweet flavors. To prepare this thick and refreshing drink, Lulo pulp is mixed with sugar, water, and crushed ice. Often garnished with fresh mint, Lulada is a delightful way to beat the tropical heat.
- Chicha de Maíz: A testament to Colombia’s indigenous roots, Chicha de Maíz is a fermented corn drink that dates back to pre-Columbian times. Although there are alcoholic versions, the non-alcoholic variant is enjoyed widely, especially in Bogotá. The process involves fermenting boiled maize with sugar, resulting in a mildly tangy and sweet drink.
- Salpicón: More than just a drink, Salpicón is a fruit cocktail that serves as a delightful snack too. Prepared using diced tropical fruits like watermelon, pineapple, and papaya, this colorful concoction is drenched in a mix of soda (often Colombiana, a local soft drink) and fruit juices. Topped with a scoop of ice cream, Salpicón becomes an indulgent treat on sweltering days.
- Avena Colombiana: This creamy oatmeal-based drink stands out with its rich consistency and delightful flavor. Made by soaking oats in water and blending them with milk, sugar, cinnamon, and cloves, Avena Colombiana is often refrigerated and served chilled. It’s both a filling drink and a source of nourishment, making it a favorite among kids and adults alike.
Colombia’s non-alcoholic beverages provide a delightful insight into the nation’s diverse landscapes and cultural mosaic. Whether you’re looking for a tangy thirst-quencher or a creamy elixir, Colombia’s drink offerings are as varied as its topography. Next time you find yourself in this South American gem, immerse yourself in its flavors by starting with these quintessential non-alcoholic cocktails.